VIDEO: Press Conference
HICKORY, N.C. – No. 11 Lenoir-Rhyne (44-9) used a highly efficient offense that rapped out double-digit hits to oust sixth-seeded Carson-Newman (33-21) from the NCAA regional in run-rule fashion 17-0 late Friday night at Bears Field.
The second-seeded Bears advance to the title game to face the seven seed Young Harris. The Bears would need to win twice to make it to super regionals.
Carson-Newman fell shy of the sub-regional championship game for a fourth straight appearance.
"You're not going to win too many games where you get outhit 18-3," head coach Michael Graves said. "We made a lot of the mistakes that we made all weekend, and we're not going to win games if we don't correct that.
"It did not matter what we threw today though. Credit Lenoir-Rhyne absolutely stroked it today. I've watched softball for a long time at a lot of levels. I have never seen a team get on a streak like they did today for nine innings and two games today."
Lenoir-Rhyne erupted like Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD in the first inning. The first six batters of the game reached base successfully for the Bears with each one also crossing home plate to stake the Bears to an early 6-0 lead.
Savannah Moorefield singled to short to lead off the game before Madison Poe hit a fly ball to left field. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) mishandled it for an E7 that allowed Moorefield to sprint home from three bases away.
Erin Boone and Kylee Leonhardt produced runs with a double to left center and a single to center, respectively to set L-R in front 3-0.
After a base hit down the left field line, Talon LaClair smoked the first pitch she got over the wall in right center for a three-run blast to round out the scoring in the frame. It was her third home run of the season.
Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) then settled down and retired the next three batters in order to end the massive frame.
The Bears tallied another run in the top of the second. With runners on first and second with two out, Mackenzie Cates dropped a single into right center to push the lead to 7-0.
Lenoir-Rhyne plated five more runs off six hits in the top of the fourth to stretch the advantage to 12-0.
The Bears tallied five more runs in the fifth to set some records.
The 17 runs the Bears scored are the most runs that Carson-Newman has ever allowed.
The loss is the largest margin of defeat for Carson-Newman in school history. The Bears' 18 hits are the second most Carson-Newman has ever allowed to Lincoln Memorial's 19 in a 15-6 loss to the Railsplitters in 2013.
The Bears four, five and six hitters, Leonhardt, Cates and LaClair, all had at least three RBI.
Rinus took the loss for the Eagles to fall to 23-14 for her sophomore season.
Emily Kenley got the complete-game, three-hit shutout for the Bears.
"We have to learn from this," Graves said. "We got smacked in the mouth today and didn't do a thing about it. We have to learn over the summer and the fall so that we can be a better hitting team in the spring. We return this entire team minus Toppel and Pritchett. We'll have a lot of talent to work with next year, but they'll have to work, and use this, to get better."
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